Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Decorating on a Budget

Looking for a dramatic fall centerpiece for your table or entry? Here is a fun idea. Start with a large black cake pedestal to give it some height and drama. You can find them on line for purchase. I actually found one similar to the one I made listed for $80! If you live on a budget like me, you can follow these easy instructions and make your own. The total cost of mine was $8 plus my spray as you can see that was quite a savings!

Basically you need a large round tray or plate and something for a base. True to form, I browsed the thrift stores for these items. As a matter of fact, I actually purchased mine at a local thrift store yesterday. The plate, which was a pretty ugly silver painted charger plate, cost me $1.99. For the base I love to use my imagination because actually anything goes. If you want to keep it simple, a large candlestick is probably the easiest source. Believe me, you can find all sorts of them if you are looking for one. You may already have one in in your storage. Mine cost only $5.99. Is there any question why I love to shop thrift stores?

Clean both pieces of extra dust and oils and then spray lightly with a primer paint. This may seem unnecessary, but the final product will have a much nicer finish when you use a primer and it will be less likely to chip. Then, for a Halloween or fall arrangement I like to use a matte or flat black spray paint. You can use a satin finish, but anything glossy will take away from the focal point of the arrangement. When both pieces are dry, glue them together with a good household glue. I like epoxy as it holds up the best.

The key to an interesting centerpiece is thinking in terms of, lifting the eye up from the base or tabe to the top of the arrangement. This is why the cake pedestal works so well.

I have included two pictures of very easy, quick arrangements I that I pulled together with just the things I had around from previous years. I used artificial pumpkins, but real ones would work beautifully. Personally, I think my looks every bit as good as the expensive ones on line. The important thing is to just have fun and enjoy the challenge...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sack Cloth and Ashes?

Remember this old saying? Well, sack cloth is not what it used to be! Today, vintage sack cloth is selling for the high dollar. As an example check out several listed on Ebay. In fact, they made the "it" list with Horchow. These are great to use decoratively as I have in my kitchen photo above, or stitched up for decorative pillows as with the Horchow Collection, framed for wall art, etc. Works great for a beach house, country or rustic decor. I would love to get some feedback from you on other ideas as well.

If you sew at all, you are only limited by your imagination and your budget. I love to check out the thrift stores (where I found mine) or antique shops. If you are lucky, you may already have one stashed away in the attic. Any way you do it you can be sure it will be a one-of-a-kind treasure...and you created it yourself! Happy hunting!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chocolate of the Gods Mousse Recipe

For all of you who wanted the it is. I got this one from House Beautiful magazine several months ago but Whole Foods has a similar version.

2 C Hass avocados (about 2)
1/2 C plus 2 T pure maple syrup
2-4 T Organic/raw sugar
2 T Coconut oil (optional)
1-2 t Vanilla extract
1 t Sweet balsamic vinegar (Costco brand ok...aged is best)
1 C Pure cocoa powder...I use the extra dark
1 pt Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Handful of fresh mint...chopped

Top with whipped cream if desired...

In a food processor, blend the avocados, maple syrup, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and balsamic until smooth and creamy.

Add the cocoa powder and blend until smooth. Use a simple metal strainer if you have any lumps.

Distribute half the raspberries evenly among four to eight dessert bowls. Follow with a dollop of mousse, sprinkle of mint, more raspberries and top with whipped cream if desired.

Leftover mousse can be stored in a tightly sealed container for up to a week in the frig or frozen for up to a month.

Here's to your health!:-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Impressions

First impressions are important in everything and certainly our home is no exception. While skimming through some photos from my favorite magazine, Veranda, I came upon this Spanish Colonial Revival style Bougainvillea entrance by designer Kathryn Ireland. Notice how her choice of aquas for accent allow the pinks of the flowers and the red of the walkway "pop".

When choosing colors for front doors it is important to decide what you want the focus to be. If it is to be the door then go for bold color. Personally, I am always a sucker for a beautiful shiny red door for example. If, however, as in this instance, you want to calm down other colors already present at the entrance go for something more soothing such as aquas or blue tones. Black or deep purples would also be a good choice. Black doors add a stately elegance to your entrance like no other color.

Note too the pull cord on the bell and the lantern light which add unique interest and help to balance out the heaviness of the Bougainvillea on the opposite side. The pots are the final touch to anchor the door. They are also a great way to reintroduce the beautiful aqua color used on the door. These pots are quite large. Anything smaller would be lost in the scale of things. When you are working with large heavy vines and trees it is important to keep the scale of your accent pieces in proportion. Notice also that the pots are empty so as not to compete with the Bougainvillea vine. Anything more would be too much. Definitely in this case the Bougainvillea deserves most of the attention!

One final caution. If your door is not pristine to begin with, you may want to choose a finish less glossy such as an eggshell. High gloss finishes are gorgeous when applied carefully, but will show each and every divot and imperfection. Make no mistake, a satin finish still has quite a bit of shine but may be a good compromise if you are feeling uncertain about your choice.

Staging a Home to Sell

I have had several inquiries regarding staging a house to sell. In this tough market it is really important to have an edge. Remember, you want the home to look as clean, open and bright as possible. Here are a few pointers that might help. I hope this does not sound too "severe", but I know it works. The most important thing to remember is that you are moving on and don't live in this home any more. By this I mean it is extremely important that potential buyers can claim "ownership" from the moment they enter the front door. This will require removing and storing everything and anything that may be personal to you and your family. That cute family photo may be a wonderful addition to the living room or entry wall...but will NOT be a selling point to the buyer. The same goes for Grandma's pink and blue quilt on the master bed. Run to Savers or a good thrift store and buy something that will be more "neutral" in nature. You can find them in any size for about $10 to $12...I know from personal experience. CLUTTER is the biggest offense. I hear comments often from potential buyers about this. Refrigerator magnets and cutsie notes, religious objects, and kids toys in rooms other than their own are a definite NO! NO!

Check wall switches, sliding doors, around door knobs and other obvious places for dirty I am sure you know, they can appear overnight so stay on top of this if you can. The same goes for just general cleanliness including floors and mirrors in baths and kitchen areas. Kitchen counters should be cleared of everything except the essentials. Clear clutter out of closets and store in a temporary facility. This is critical! We want to give the buyers the impression that the home has ample storage and if every closet and cupboard is chucked full of stuff it is a real turn off for them. Think of it as a great opportunity to begin sorting and packing for your new place:-)

If you have a favorite red accent very thoughtful about whether to leave it or not. Bold colors are great except when you are trying to sell a home. Remember you want them to feel like this is their home and maybe red is not a favorite color. Also bold colors can cut up the floor plan and make the home feel smaller. The same goes for a mish mash of colors room to room. It prevents the home from having a nice continual "flow". Obviously kids rooms do not apply. If you are going to paint...stick to neutrals such as light warm beiges and soft greens. Pure white walls look harsh and unfriendly and do nothing for wood tones so stick to warmer shades. White woodwork is a great accent however and can really freshen up a room. Many greys and blues tend to soak up light and can make a home feel gloomy. Remember, the whole idea is to make the house seem bright, open and cheerful. This is what most home buyers are looking for. Speaking of which change out any dim lighting as well. I like to use "daylight" type bulbs whenever possible. This little thing may seem insignificant, but believe me, the difference is amazing. Use regular yellow based bulbs only when you want to create a warm glow to a room. Also turn the lights on and window coverings open when you show the home especially in the darker rooms. Again we want the home to look new, bright and open. Bringing in the outdoors through the use of uncovered windows really helps to give a sense of spaciousness.

Also be critical of any odors that my be lurking about. Keep the trash bins cleaned out and spritz the bathrooms often with a clean fresh scent. No heavy cover-up florals. It is a dead give away that you are trying to hide something. This goes for those really heavy scented sweet smelling candles as well. If you need to burn a candle use herbal, fresh scents.

Fresh flowers can freshen up a room nicely, but remove any plants that look sickly, old or dusty. Trees...artificial or otherwise can add a welcoming fresh feel to a room if they look fresh. Soft music and something baking in the oven can also tickle the senses for perspective buyers. They have probably looked at several homes that day and you want to do something that will make yours stand out from the rest. Appealing to their senses will leave a lasting impression on them.

Be sure to vacuum and mop the floors often if you have children. Spills and stains are not something buyers want to be concerned about. They are probably not interested in taking on any "projects" unless your price reflects that. Speaking of sure to finish any that may still be hanging on. Patch any holes in walls, paint walls that need to be painted and replace carpets that may need replacing. I know some like to add a carpet replacement allowance, but this will not give a good first impression to the buyer if they see a badly stained carpet to begin with. You may also want to touch up any scuffed or chipped woodwork around doorways and floor boards. The whole idea is to make the home look well maintained and loved. If it looks like you have let these things slide they may wonder about the more critical things such as roof, heating and cooling, etc.

Of course the same rules apply to the yard. A fresh coat of paint on the front door and possibly a new brass kick plate is also advisable if it is looking a bit drab. Remember first impressions are lasting impressions and if they have to trip over kids toys to get to a faded front door you have already cost yourself some money price wise and possibly lost out on the sale entirely. It may be a good idea to run to the garden center and plant a few fresh flowers in pots near the front entrance as well. Anything that says "welcome to your new home" will be to your good.

I hope this will help. Please leave me any comments or email me with any other concerns you may have. Good luck with the sale!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I really like Veronica Toney's make-over room above from I thought I would post this to show what you can do with neutral walls and colorful fabrics. For those of you who are not into painting walls this is a relatively easy way to add color to a tired room.

The duvet on the bed is like a large pillow case which works as a coverlet for your old spread. This is a wonderful way to update a room and if you sew can be made using two pretty sheets. If you are not into making button holes you can simply add ties or ribbons to the open end. I like the way the patterns on the pillows add to the interest of the room. Remember the interior design world follows the fashion industry so plaids are big this season for your home as well and look great when mixed with florals.

Notice also that this is a tone on tone color pallet which helps to keep the room looking clean and uncluttered. A good trick for smaller rooms especially. The three large platters or plates above the headboard help to bring the eye up and add height to the room and extra importance to the bed. The same is true of the curtain which was mounted a little above the actual door molding to add height to the room as well.

My First "Enchanted" Blog

I have decided to try something this will be my first blog under my Enchanted Cottage title. It is an extension of my design company. In addition to it being a lifelong passion, I have been actively engaged in the design business for over 15 years. I have worked with clients on exclusive homes from the beaches of Oahu and Malibu to mountain retreats in Deer Valley, Utah. I know there are many wonderful design idea blogs out there (I follow several myself) and I do not want this to be just another one on an already very long and impressive list. To that end, I pledge to stretch my creativity somewhat beyond the usual trends and prattle and hopefully shake up a few old ideas on the subject. Many of my clients are do-it-yourselfers and let's face it, with today's economy most of us are looking for ways to cut back on our budget.

That being said, who doesn't want (and need) some refreshing new interest and color injected into our lives from time to time. Here's the good doesn't have to be expensive and you can do it yourself. In my years of experience as a designer, I have found that adding some exciting self-expression and personality to our home interiors can be one of the greatest ways to add that "lift we all need from time to time. In fact, this is one of the best reasons to redecorate. So let's get busy and pull ourselves out of that slump we may be finding ourselves in. After all, whether you are a career person out in the world or a real home body, your home is the last place you visit at the end of the day and the first place you see almost every morning. It is probably also your biggest investment. Why not make it a true reflection of the " real you" buried beneath the everyday hassles and clutter? You may be amazed at how creative you can be...and even more amazed at how much fun and excitement it can add to your life!

So, to get my new blog off to a good start, I hope you will use the " comment" section below to send me your questions and thoughts so that I might be able to focus on actual problems and concerns you may have with you own projects...

The Enchanted Cottage, LLC